VILLAGERS have won their fight against plans for a mobile phone mast near their village green, after Prime Minister Tony Blair gave them his backing.

The Sedgefield MP wrote to planners after worried residents in Thornley, East Durham, called for his support.

Easington district councillors rejected One2One's proposal to site a mast of almost 15 metres near the village green, which is due to undergo a major facelift.

The petition was signed by 760 villagers, protesting that it would spoil the green's appearance and was close to a play area and houses in High Street.

The village's Labour district councillor Greg Wharrier said: "There were letters from Tony saying he backed our stance that the mast should not be near the village green.

"He asked them to find a different site that is more reasonable for the village.

"One2One has 40 days to appeal so we'll have to see what happens, but we are hoping they will have talks with the council to find a more suitable site, hopefully on the edge of the village.

"There is a lot of opposition to the mast and if the company did appeal, then the residents would fight it.''

Villagers were also worried about health effects from microwave radiation from masts despite a report last year which found no evidence of any risks.

Councillor Wharrier said they were concerned at the lack of powers for councils over refusal of new masts.

"We want some legislation, either from the Government or Europe, that will give more control over masts.''